New Delhi: Imran Khan-led Pakistan government is planning to send a proposal to India with a set of rules and regulations for Indians visiting the Kartarpur corridor. WION (English news channel of Zee Media) has accessed the initial draft which Pakistan will be purposing to India soon.
According to the draft, Pakistan will be issuing a permit and it will be capped at 500 per day. It will be visa-free travel but pilgrims will have to carry Indian passport and security clearance from India. The government of India will have to share with the government of Pakistan details of pilgrims and security clearance certificate 3 days prior to their entry through the Kartarpur corridor.
It is also proposed that the pilgrims must constitute a group of 15 people and the corridor will be open from 8 AM to 5 PM. Both sides will be creating a database of pilgrims having names, travel history. The Indian side is still to receive the approximately 59-page draft.
“Pakistan reserves the right to refuse entry, reduce the period of stay or terminate the stay in its territory of any pilgrim despite grant of permit” if it considers “the pilgrim is found undesirable for security or other purpose,”the draft said.
Furthermore it stated, “In case of a dispute, it will be ‘amicably settled between parties through the diplomatic channel’. Any side can terminate the agreement any time by giving one month notice. The agreement also does not affect the existing commitments on border security.”
Earlier on November 22, India’s cabinet passed a resolution to celebrate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji in 2019 and approved the building of Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur District till the border. On the same day, Delhi informed Islamabad through Pakistan’s high commission in Delhi its decision to build Kartarpur Corridor and urged Pakistan to develop a corridor in their territory from the International Border to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the construction of the corridor on the Indian side on November 26. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone on November 28 on its side of the border. Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State (IC) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri attended the groundbreaking ceremony on the Pakistan side as representatives of the Government of India.
India has been doubtful on Pakistan’s intentions with comments like googly remarks exposing Islamabad. Reacting to the remarks, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said a few days ago, ” Some people went from here went there and certain comments were made from that side, so I think there is hardly any need to speak further on this issue. I think their intentions on doing this thing was not with clear conscious which we felt from their certain statements.”
Transport Ministry is the nodal Ministry for building and development of the corridor while Home Ministry is the nodal Ministry for coordinating with the concerned authorities, including the local Government. A high-level Committee under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been constituted to review, monitor and oversee the activities as approved by the Union Cabinet for implementation of the decisions of the Cabinet.
Sources have told WION that India considers “Kartarpur corridor a cultural initiative and not a diplomatic initiative” and it will not lead to the start of any dialogue process. In a written statement in the Parliament Minister of State for Ministry of External affairs Gen. VK Singh said, “The Kartarpur corridor on the Indian side is envisaged to be an integrated development project with Government of India funding, for smooth and easy passage of Indian pilgrims, with modern amenities.”
India has also proposed pilgrims visit to shrines in Pakistan occupied Kashmir including Sharada Peeth but Islamabad has not concurred with the proposal so far.
(With inputs from Sidhant Sibal, WION)